Special Event Status

16-February 2013 to 18-February 2013: ...Then, Julie excitedly showed me her camera as I was wondering why she was so ecstatic while I was sort of lukewarm to the spectacle.

Then, Julie showed me her photo on her iPhone...

I took just one glance at it and I knew immediately that I had been in the wrong spot all this time!

Her smart phone photo definitely showed that she managed to catch the firefall as I had envisioned what it was supposed to be. She didn't use a tripod and she didn't do any color saturation with long exposure photos. She just had a point-and-shoot, and she managed to catch the scene far better than how I had it despite my tripod and DSLR capabilities.

I had this sinking feeling that I had been cursed or something...

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Julie and I were busy trying to get packed and prepared for this weekend's trip to Yosemite. This trip was supposed to be our excuse to let Tahia play in the snow. However, I had an ulterior motive to catch the firefall with a DSLR camera since we failed to do it 7 years ago (though we did see the firefall, but the new camera didn't arrive until after we had left for that trip).

It was a hectic morning as there was still lots to do regarding getting Tahia's food and belongings ready. So as much as I would've liked to leave around 7am, we didn't leave our place until about 9:30am, and we didn't leave my Mom's place until about 10:10am.

Given the late start, I knew that we were cutting it quite close to arrive in Yosemite Valley in time for the firefall event. Complicating things was that we kind of knew that the word got out so we feared crowds and the inability to find parking. Exacerbating those fears was that this weekend also happened to be President's Day weekend.

After some initial LA traffic, we'd eventually get out of the shackles of LA county and into the Grapevine a little under two hours later. We decided to make a quick stop at an In 'N Out while filling up on gas in Bakerfield at 12:10pm. I guess it was a good thing we made the stop when we did because the wait at the fast food joint wasn't too bad, and we had gotten a lot accomplished.

We ended up leaving at about 12:35pm, and for the next 2.5 hours, it was pretty uneventful as we were cruising along the 99 and then the 41. The only real drama of the entire drive was trying not to get caught by CHP, which seemed to be out in numbers looking to nap someone for speeding, while also trying to maintain cruising speed despite the quantity of cars out on the road. The other bit of concern was the amount of cloudiness we saw as we approached Yosemite.

Those clouds weren't good news because if it stayed cloudy like this, it might take mute the fiery red light on Horsetail Falls. And therefore, there wouldn't be a firefall.

It was about 3:05pm when we finally made it Oakhurst, but we could see that the sun was still trying to break through the persistent layer of high clouds around the area. I almost wanted to give up on racing to catch the firefall on this day because of those clouds.

Mom and Julie were quick about doing the grocery run at the Vons in town, and it was only 10 minutes later when we were back on the road.

Even though we knew it was getting late to catch the firefall, we still found the time to make the quick detour to our Yosemite West condo. We picked up our key and dropped off our stuff into our room at about 4:15pm. It took some time to get settled with loading up the fridge while letting Tahia stretch a bit.

It wasn't until 4:45pm when we were back on the road again. I knew that we were now really cutting it close.

So we followed another caravan of cars into Yosemite Valley as we passed through the familiar tunnel and then saw the familiar view of the Gates of Yosemite Valley with Bridalveil Fall flowing pretty well for Winter.

I had entertained thoughts of making a stop here so Tahia could get close to Bridalveil Fall, but then I decided to just keep going and at least scout out the view of Horsetail Falls from a spot just east of Cathedral Beach. This was a viewpoint I wasn't familiar with (since it wasn't in the edition of the Photographer's Guide to Yosemite that we owned), but I figured it might be a decent day to give this a shot since we were already familiar with the view from the Northside Drive.

The late afternoon sun was still muted as it remained hidden behind the clouds, which was disappointing. However, as we got closer to the Cathedral Beach area, we could see that the Park Service actually blocked off one of the two lanes on the Southside Drive so people could park along the road. There was even a sign that indicated "Special Event" that fronted the lane blockade. I guess this phenomenon became so famous that it now gained Special Event status (something I thought was normally reserved for concerts or the arrival of some dignitary).

However, there were so many cars parked along the Southside Drive that we feared we wouldn't be able to find parking. It was crazy to think how much quieter this event was 7 years ago. Now, it was so popular that there were literally hundreds of cars and maybe thousands of people on both sides of the valley trying to check out the event.

Anyways, what Julie ended up doing was to drop me off where we saw a group of people set up to photograph the firefall. Meanwhile, Julie, Mom, and Tahia kept driving forward to look for parking.

By now, it was about 5pm, and there I was trying not to mess up someone's shot while looking for Horsetail Falls. The view here didn't seem that great as there were quite a few trees around and somehow the waterfall looked kind of wimpy from here.

Anyways, I made my decision to just stop here and wait out the firefall while socializing with some of the other folks that were here. Some of the kids looked bored so they were actually running around entertaining themselves while the adults were conversing.

As we were waiting, we could see that the lighting remained muted from the persistent cloud cover. So that induced some people to leave. But most of us still remained as we waited and hoped for the light to come out.

Trying to capture the firefall from somewhere east of Cathedral Beach Eventually as the time got to 5:30pm, that was when we started to notice that the rocks around the hard-to-see Horsetail Falls were starting to glow red. However, the waterfall looked rather wimpy from here and I started to get the feeling that it somehow wasn't the firefall effect that I recalled seeing 7 years ago. I also started to draw the conclusion that this view from the Southside Drive wasn't all that great.

Still, I was impressed with how red the light was as the sun sunk lower on the horizon. In fact, most of the folks around me thought we caught the special event. When the light finally started to fade, I started to worry about how I was going to find Julie and the others.

Julie's photo of the firefall from her iPhone Fortunately, Julie yelled out my name and so I managed to rejoin her and make what turned out to be a pretty long walk back to our car. Then, Julie excitedly showed me her camera as I was wondering why she was so ecstatic while I was sort of lukewarm to the spectacle.

Then, Julie showed me her photo on her iPhone...

Julie's photo of the firefall from her iPhone I took just one glance at it and I knew immediately that I had been in the wrong spot all this time!

Her smart phone photo definitely showed that she managed to catch the firefall as I had envisioned what it was supposed to be. She didn't use a tripod and she didn't do any color saturation with long exposure photos. She just had a point-and-shoot, and she managed to catch the scene far better than how I had it despite my tripod and DSLR capabilities.

Julie's photo of the firefall from her iPhone I had this sinking feeling that I had been cursed or something. For I thought I knew what I was doing, but Julie's photo clearly proved that I didn't have a clue. So once again, I was caught in a situation where the firefall did indeed happen, but it wasn't recorded on our DSLR camera (i.e. our "decent" camera).

At this point, I had that sinking realization that that for me it was going to be tomorrow or bust, but Julie and Mom were now playing with house money at this point. In hindsight (always being 20-20) that I should've just stayed in the car with the rest of the family and not try to find the firefall prematurely. I remembered some folks around me saying there were hundreds of people further up the road, and now I understood why. The rest of the family was with those hundreds while I was with the dozens that thought we had found a better spot and ended up striking out.

Anyways, Julie and I continued to walk back to our parked car as it was clear that we had walked maybe at least a quarter-mile or so. Julie pointed me out to the spot where she got the view of Horsetail Falls, and now I really understood where I should've been and how I really wished I had set up over there instead of my premature spot (as jam packed as I'm sure it would've been here). I guess the start of the lane blockade where I was at was just not the right spot for viewing.

At 6pm, we were all finally back at the car. It was dark at this point, but there were literally hundreds of cars marching either towards Curry Village or Yosemite Village. We'd eventually reach Curry Village by 6:20pm, but I had to park towards the side of the lot closest to Stoneman Meadow (past quite a few muddy and snowy patches) as the closer parking spots were completely full.

There would be no Curry Village pizza on this go around as Julie opted instead for some kind of pulled pork sandwich dinner in the dining area. Finding a table wasn't easy, and we ended up sharing a table with some strangers.

We also happened to show up in the dining area on a night when there was Winterfest, where there was a raffle going on, plus a live band playing. One of the lady's serving the food was thanking everybody for "supporting the school" as apparently they were teachers who put together this event to raise money for the school in Yosemite Village. I didn't even know they had a school down here!

Indeed, this seemed like one of those days where we stumbled onto quite a bit of activity. Yosemite was bustling for what would normally be low season. But perhaps it was because of the firefall event that things got exponentially crazier. Now we understood what some people meant when they observed how crazy it had gotten. And we were going to do it again tomorrow!

At 7:45pm, we were back in the car as we were done with dinner and we were done encouraging Tahia to dance on the dance floor in front of the live band. Unfortunately, she seemed more interested in running around the dining area than dancing with the other kids here.

We finally made it back to our Yosemite West condo at 8:30pm, and now we could finally call it a day. Of course Tahia was still being a handful as she would insist on playing kitchen with the pots and pans. She also knew how to turn on the gas on the stove as well as how to run the dish washer. We had to relocate all the pots and pans out of her reach.

She'd eventually be put into her travelpod tent to sleep, but not before launching a big protest as it seemed she didn't want to be alone in that tent. We were about to sleep soon, too, and it wasn't until Mom got out of the shower and started to try to sooth her did Tahia finally start to calm down.

Finally at around 10pm, the lights went out and slowly but surely, everyone was going to sleep.

With no real itinerary for tomorrow except for the firefall event again and letting Tahia play in the snow, perhaps we could finally sleep in (something I know I hadn't really gotten a chance to do, especially since I was getting over a pretty nasty cold since last weekend). However with my lamenting my Horsetail Falls curse and that sinking feeling of deja vu of not being able to capture the event, that I probably wouldn't be sleeping all that well.

Here's to hoping that tomorrow's weather would cooperate so we could go at it again...

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There weren't many blankets provided as part of our rental unit. So Julie and I had to share a thin blanket (practically see through) while Mom had a different (but also thin) blanket. And it got pretty chilly through the night. Perhaps Tahia's night was warmer becaue she was wearing three layers plus she was covered with a Hello Kitty blanket that was quickly becoming Tahia's favorite.

It all resulted in a pretty early wakeup for most of us at around 5:30am. Even Tahia was ready to wake up as she asked us to open her travel pod. In my particular case, I found myself unable to go back to sleep probably anxious from looking forward to one last go at trying to capture the firefall with similar kind of success as what Julie and Mom were able to do yesterday. At least when we looked out the window, we didn't see any clouds so perhaps that was a good sign for us.

So the morning started off rather deliberately as we all had a pretty nutritious breakfast of serial with eggs and toast. It wasn't until around 9:15am when we were finally out of our room.

Tahia balancing herself in the snow We intended to spend most of the morning letting Tahia experience snow either nearby our condo our out at Badger Pass. Since Tahia wasn't old enough to really appreciate and pick up skiing, we opted to try our hand at the cheaper option by sledding on a patch of sloping snow right above our condo building. The office for the rental property actually loaned some of those plastic circular sleds out so we helped ourselves to one.

It would turn out that for the next 90 minutes, we were having fun with the sled. Tahia was having a blast on some of the mini slopes but we'd eventually ride tandem with her. We'd eventually graduate towards the 1/4- to 1/3- height of the little hills (as going all the way up meant we would be going down real fast and we weren't sure Tahia was ready for that).

It was amazing to see how Tahia naturally figured out how to keep her balance climbing up some of the snowy hills, especially around some of the icier spots though she still took a couple of spills here and there (which didn't seem to bother her, however).

We ended off our sledding session with me trying my hand at the full height of the taller slopes. Just as we were about to call it quits and head towards the valley, I made one last run from the very top of the highest hill, but there was one mogul or bump at the base of this hill. I worried about catching air on the sled and landing awkwardly with possible injuries. But part of me was starting to get addicted to the speed rush I was getting from the other slopes.

Me sliding on the plastic sled And when I went down, there was no choice but down and right into that mogul. I ended up catching air and then landed on my elbow and bum, which didn't feel very good. After an initial check to see if I had broken anything, I got up and walked with Julie towards the condo. However, I then realized that the sled we had borrowed was sliced nearly in half!

Oops! So now we had to return the sled and be up front with the property that we had broken it. So we were prepared to pay for a new sled, but then the lady on the intercom was telling us not to worry about it. So that was that.

Anyways, we left the Yosemite West area at around 11am, and we made the decision to keep driving towards Curry Village while bypassing both the Tunnel View and the base of Bridalveil Fall. I guess instead of letting Tahia get her taste of getting right up to the 620ft waterfall, Julie wanted to beat the lunch rush.

Yosemite Falls from the Southside Drive We did make one brief stop to see Yosemite Falls from along the Southside Drive since the low Winter sun casted an attractive afternoon backlight on the waterfall and its snow cone. The trees and meadow were all brown though (as expected since it was Winter) and there were still patches of snow and ice in the meadow before us. Meanwhile, people were playing in the snow across the Southside Drive behind us.

We'd eventually make it to Curry Village at around 11:40am, but their pizza parlor wasn't open until 12pm on the weekends so we had to wait it out. At least the benefit of showing up a few minutes early for lunch was that we had pretty much beat the rush since it was us and another family that were the only ones at the pizza parlor.

When the lunch finally opened a little after 12pm, we'd share our medium sized wheel of pizza while letting Tahia enjoy some of the greasy treat. When Tahia had her fill of lunch, she was busy running around the dining hall area while noticing the bear in the lounge area. She'd insist on having me give her a boost so she could ride that stuffed bear while also running around in circles around the fireplace always getting reaquainted with the bear. She even told some other toddler that the bear was hers. I wasn't sure where she got that possessiveness from.

It wasn't until about 1:15pm when we finally left Curry Village, but then we went to the other side of the valley looking for groceries since Julie had forgotten to buy meats for the pasta she wanted to make tonight, but the market at Curry Village wasn't open due to some long term renovation.

With parking practically impossible to find at the Village Store car park, we eventually joined a pair of other cars being parked illegally with people waiting inside their respective cars while someone made a quick run at doing the errands. In our case, Julie went into the village store while Mom, Tahia, and I were waiting patiently in the car.

At 1:35pm, Julie finally made it back to the car. But Tahia was really fussing at this point. Apparently, she didn't like being constrained in the child seat for too long while the car wasn't moving. In any case, we were finally moving but her fussiness only died down a little.

Back at the familiar paved path to the base of Yosemite Falls About five minutes later, I had noticed there were some parking spaces for Yosemite Lodge near the paved path to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. So at the very last minute, we decided to just do it since Tahia wasn't quite asleep for her afternoon nap yet. We figured that we didn't have the luxury of going to the base of Bridalveil Fall since it was getting late in the afternoon and that we still wanted one more shot at catching the firefall at sunset.

So at 1:40pm, we parked the car and took out Tahia's stroller. This time, Tahia knew what a waterfall was and so I was pretty certain that she would at least know that she was seeing perhaps the tallest legitimate waterfall in the Continental US.

Back at the base of Yosemite Falls We shared this paved pathway with hordes of groups. It was almost as if we were visiting during Summertime, but here we were in the middle of February experiencing this zoo. We just couldn't believe how different the experience was from our February 2006 trip. Maybe it was because this weekend also happened to be President's Day weekend though that was a particular holiday that I knew we didn't get off at work so I never really thought much of it until now.

Last look at the Upper Yosemite Falls When we got to the footbridge and viewing area for Lower Yosemite Falls, we could see that afternoon wasn't the best time to see the falls given how shadows were cutting through the top of the Lower Falls. This waterfall had significantly more flow than we remembered from back in February 2006 so it was still compelling to photograph even though it wasn't optimal.

When we had our fill of this falls, we returned to the car at about 2:45pm. Now, it was time to start scoping out a spot along the Northside Drive for a view of the firefall. Given my whiff from yesterday, I wanted to go back to the Southside Drive and try it again. However, Julie insisted that we check it out from the Northside Drive because the falls would be closer. And since we had seen the falls 7 years ago from this spot, we at least had the benefit of experience to tell us that we shouldn't be cheated out of seeing it unlike my experience yesterday.

As we were driving along and scouting out the views, I couldn't help but notice how there were hundreds of people at the picnic area near El Capitan. I was a little perplexed by how people would be all the way out there nearly 2.5 hours before the event. I thought the angle was a little too straight on from this spot so I once again found myself conflicted about whether I should join these folks or go back to what I knew. Was there something they knew that we didn't, or was there a bit of the lemmings effect going on?

Since there was no prayer of finding parking all the way down there and that we were well past the parking areas for Horsetail Falls, we had to circle back around the Southside Drive. By the time we got past the Cathedral Beach area, we could see that the cars were already staking claims to parking spaces even though there was still 2 hours to go before the event. Crazy!

We then had to face traffic as we swung around the Northside Drive and there was a bit of crosswalk congestion right in front of the Yosemite Lodge.

Horsetail Falls from the Northside Drive Eventually at around 3:30pm, we finally stopped the car near where the sign indicating "Special Event" was placed to blockade one of the Northside Drive's lanes. Then, I was on my own to look for a suitable spot to plant the tripod and engage in some friendly chatter with other folks looking for the same thing I was.

Later on during the magic period of the firefall Something about the initial spot kind of bothered me as Horsetail Falls was hardly visible and it just seemed to be nowhere near the vigor I recalled seeing from back in February 2006. Plus, I had this sinking feeling of deja vu from yesterday that perhaps the angle I was hoping to capture the falls from was still a bit too forward for me to get the streaking firefall effect that Julie managed to get from yesterday.

Later on during the magic period of the firefall So at around 4:30pm, I moved spots and went closer to my original viewing spot from 7 years ago. And that was where we waited and engaged in more banter with other fellow photographers who were already there. It really was like we were at a tailgate party or something with this kind of atmosphere.

Horsetail Falls getting redder but thinner from this spot Eventually when 5:30pm came around, the sun was setting and we could barely make out a deep red thin streak that gave us the illusion that something was on fire as it went down the cliff on the backside of El Capitan. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as pronounced as yesterday, and so I had to make do with what we had on this day.

Horsetail Falls from the Northside Drive Now I was curious about what those folks at the picnic area might have seen. But I was also starting to lament that we didn't stick with re-trying the Southside Drive. Then again, Julie was playing with House Money so her insistence at checking out the Northside Drive's views and possibly Galen Rowell's original vantage points kind of made that the ultimate last word on the dilemma that faced us.

Last look at Horsetail Falls from the Northside Drive At around 5:40pm, the light was gone and that was when Mom and Tahia showed up behind us. Now, it was time to go back to the car as the light was fading fast. We joined the traffic as it seemed like hundreds of cars were on their way out.

A coyote we noticed on the way back to the condo As we were about to leave the valley at around 6pm, we notied that there were a handful of cars parked near an unusual spot to view Bridalveil Fall not much past the Fern Spring pullout. It turned out that they were photographing what appeared to be either a coyote or wolf. I didn't recall there being many wolves (if any) in the Sierras, but as we were taking what photos we could of this mammal, it was a topic of active debate and we probably needed to ask a ranger or something to break the stalemate.

Finally at 6:40pm, we were back at the condo. Now, we could unwind on this day with some pasta and chicken pot pie that Julie made to cap off this day.

I was still wondering what if had I stuck with the family to see the Southside Drive's view of the firefall. But alas, I knew this would still induce me to want to return to Yosemite in February again to get that elusive true firefall effect. I just didn't know when that would be though.

As we finished our dinner and went to bed before 10pm, we were pretty much conked out and in need of a good night's sleep in the worst way.

Tomorrow, it was time to go home. There was no way we'd stick around for a third try at the firefall before a Tuesday storm would show up since I had to work on Tuesday. However, we might catch the Mariposa Grove on the way out, and that part of the park was something we had never done in all the years that we've visited the park...

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It was 6am when Tahia started talking in the dark. When she started to ask that we open her Travelpod, we knew that it was time to get up for the day. Since we were going to make the long drive home today with a visit to the Mariposa Grove (a part of Yosemite National Park that Julie and I haven't been to together), I guess Tahia acting as the natural alarm clock was fitting and the timing was right.

We got right to it as we were busy packing and loading up the car while leftover food was being made to double as the breakfast.

As I looked out at the blue skies, the thought of still not getting the firefall effect that both Julie and Mom managed to grab on their respective phones kept gnawing away at me. I knew there was not much I could do with respect to this trip, though I kept wondering what might have been had I gotten my way of returning to the Southside Drive yesterday instead of trying the Northside Drive.

So for the next couple of hours, our condo unit was bustling with trying to keep Tahia from turning on the stove or running the dish washer while I was busy loading up the car while Julie was doing the brekkie, and Mom was also helping out or packing her stuff.

Julie and Tahia done playing in the snow When it was around 8am, I was able to take Tahia back outside to play in the snow. It seemed like Tahia was getting used to the idea of slipping and sliding in the snow. And when Mom joined us roughly a half-hour later, she had this idea of letting Tahia slide on her bum down some of the short slopes we were sledding down yesterday.

The idea seemed to have worked as Tahia was having a blast. Even when it looked like she took a bit of a spill, she was giggling and all smiles.

A big redwood at the car park At 9am, Julie had the car all loaded up and it was time to go. Tahia was having so much fun that she protested having to leave. But all good things had to come to an end, and now it was time to start making our way back towards LA with a short planned detour to the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees by the Southern Entrance of Yosemite.

At the Mariposa Grove car park We'd eventually make it to the Mariposa Grove at 9:45am. In years past, this road was usually closed for the Winter as I figured it was always snowed in. However, on this weekend, it seemed like the road itself was mostly snow free though when we got to the Mariposa Grove car park, we could see there were lots of snow patches flanking the pavement and at the bases of the tall trees in the area.

On the snowy trail to the Grizzly Giant Seeing sequoia trees was something Julie and I weren't used to in all the years we've been to Yosemite. But to have the opportunity to check out the giant trees without having to go all the way to Sequoia National Park was pretty cool. Plus, Tahia got to see these things for herself though I wondered whether she'd remember any of this at her young age.

There were lots of cars already in the lot here, which made me wonder if this was a result of President's Day weekend or if this just so happened to be a popular attraction in the park that Julie and I have completely overlooked over the years.

Mom, Tahia, and Julie on the snowy trail Whatever the case, we were intending to do some short walking before we hopped back in the car and would head for home. So with the mentality that it would be a rather short outing (more like a stroll than a hike), we started the walk pretty ill prepared as I was walking in Chacos and Julie had some kind of slip on shoes. Only Mom was wearing hiking boots and Tahia had snow boots on.

We really didn't have a goal in mind on our walk until we saw some sign indicating the Grizzly Giant. I thought that would be a worthwhile destination for the walk before turning back. However, I somehow caught wind of the fact that it was 0.8 miles each way, which was a little longer than I was hoping for, but we figured what the heck. We were here anyways and we weren't really in any hurry to go home.

The Three Graces So we all went on the hike, and Tahia insisted that she walk on the trail by herself without us helping her. This was probably the very first time she got to hike at least a mile by herself, which was kind of amazing the more I thought about it because we had done numerous hikes with her, but all this time, she had hitched a ride on our backs.

Plus, the hike itself wasn't that easy as much of the trail was covered in snow and ice so the footing was quite slippery. Even with Tahia's snow boots, she took a couple of spills, but she wasn't fazed at all and just kept going. I started to question whether hiking in Chacos under these conditions was wise, and Julie voiced similar concerns.

Approaching the Grizzly Giant Anyways, the trail seemed like it was on part pavement, which probably made it easier for ice to cling onto the surface and thus conspire to make this a rather slippery affair. It wasn't until we reached the Bachelor and Three Graces did the trail start to go on the more conventional dirt trail.

Getting closer to the Grizzly Giant We had gone about a half-mile at this point and there was still 0.3 miles to go. But we continued on as part of the dirt trail was a little wet but pretty smooth going. However, it wasn't until we got towards the top of the short switchbacks did we start to face some icy bridges and a particularly sloping stretch with snow and ice all over where the only way to go was through the dirty snow.

The side of the Grizzly Giant Eventually, we'd get right up to the giant sequoia tree known as the Grizzly Giant, and for sure, this tree was noticeably thicker than the rest that we had seen. In fact, its upper branches seemed just as thick as some of the non-sequoia trees growing in the area.

Mom checking out the backside of the Grizzly Giant As we went around the big tree, we noticed quickly that this tree was leaning. We weren't sure how much longer this tree had before it was going to topple over and end its life, but it certainly seemed like it wasn't going to be that much longer.

It was hard to photograph this tree given its huge girth as well as height. But that didn't keep a couple of photographers with tripods from doing it as they picked out a spot where the sun was against them, but it somehow made parts of the tree glow with a reddish orange.

Julie and Tahia taking a shorter but still snowy path back to the car park After taking the obligatory family photos with Tahia, it was time to head back. When we returned to the car park at about 11:30am, the place was pretty busy with marauding vehicles looking for parking space as well as lots of people out and about. This caught me by surprise since I thought the Mariposa Grove was little visited, but I guess I was wrong.

A giant fallen sequoia near the car park Anyways, at 11:40am, we finally left the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees (which by the way was part of the original state park of Yosemite in 1864, which was then known as the Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees). And after showing our receipt to the gatekeeper at the South Entrance (something they didn't used to do), we were on our way to Oakhurst. We'd eventually arrive in the gateway town at 12:15pm for a Subway lunch and by 1:15pm, we finally left Oakhurst and drove home in earnest.

It wouldn't be until about 6:30pm when we'd be back in LA county and eating some Chinese food with Dad, who didn't join us on this trip as he was having foot problems. But it was good to be back together as family once again before we had to face the reality of going home and getting ready for work tomorrow.

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